Jewels of Transcendence: Himalayan and Mongolian Treasures
Exhibition Period: From 30 September 2018 to 24 February 2019
Venue: Gallery II, Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Neither the vast Mongolian desert nor the snow-capped Tibetan mountains have ever existed in total isolation. Ever since the mid-13th century, Tibet and Mongolia have had meaningful exchanges, be that through military campaigns, political relations, or cultural and religious interchange. Before the 20th century, Tibetans and Mongolians in China were united through the "Tibetan Buddhist Society." Tibetan lamas served as mentors and masters, the providers of faith and culture, while the Mongolian disciples served as followers, sponsors, and proud defenders. The former embodying mercy, the latter, power; creating a symbiotic relationship that not only allowed the two nationalities to co-exist, but to thrive as one.

The expansive Himalayan region, also known as the "roof of the world," is home to a diverse array of peoples. Tibetans, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Gurkhas, and Ladakhs are not only bound together by their common geographic landscape, but also by a continuity of religious beliefs. They frequently communicated through an intricate web of political, military, religious and commercial exchanges. Beginning in the 18th century, for example, Newari artisans from the Kathmandu Valley not only produced objects for their neighboring Lhasa and Shigatse aristocracy but they also traveled near and far, opening up workshops in these places.

Selected from Chengxuntang and Mengdiexuan collections, this exhibition showcases more than 400 pieces of beautiful and vibrant ornaments and religious objects from the Mongolian and Himalayan regions during the 13th through 20th centuries. The artisanship of these two regions is bound together by the affinity for gold, silver, turquoise, and coral; their close attention to detail in their head, neck, and waist ornaments; and the extensive use of filigree, inlay and other delicate metal craftsmanship. The Himalayan art of this time is marked by an inseparable bond between religious and daily life. The ornaments from this region, with their strong Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu elements, capture the unity of man and the divine. Ornaments spoke for the soul and showed outward devotion to the divine. Your eyes will be dazzled by their splendor, but by reaching beyond the object and into the minds of the sand and snow dwelling peoples, a deep understanding of the past can be achieved.